The Winchester-Laon Twinning Association was inaugurated in 1991 and officially endorsed by the Civic Authorities of both cities with the signing of a Charter in 1994.

What we do

The Association forges links between the citizens of Winchester and Laon in France, giving them the opportunity of having a vested interest in a small corner of another European country. By creating this network of friendships, it aims to foster an understanding of each country's culture, traditions and histories. The two cities have much in common: spectacular cathedrals; former capitals, populations of around 30,000; a broad range of cultural activities and the wish to preserve the best of the old city while developing a modern economy.

Regular exchange visits

Winchester has developed strong social ties with Laon, through annual exchange visits. As a result of these exchanges, many members have become friends with their hosts in Laon and have arranged private visits to each other's homes. The pattern for the annual official visits is for Laon to come to Winchester in odd numbered years while we go to Laon in even years. Every year the Association holds a number of social evenings for members in Winchester, usually with a French flavour, for example: the Fête des Rois at Epiphany time; the Poisson d'Avril in April and a lively boule competition each summer. Members are kept in touch by means of a quarterly newsletter containing items of interest from Winchester and Laon as well as details of forthcoming events and news of members.

Language is no barrier

The ability of members to speak a little French is help but is by no means essential. A spirit of friendship runs through the exchange visits and language is no barrier. Many of the Laonnais speak some English and our meetings are a happy amalgam of French, English and Franglais! Spreading the message Over the years, the Association has successfully expanded inter-city relationships by bringing together clubs and other organisations with common interests. These have included choirs, orchestras, schools, tennis, and rugby and football teams.

Laon, "La Montagne Couronnée"

Known in France as "The Crowned Mountain", Laon is the capital of the Department of Aisne in north-east France and the country's largest listed historical site. It is situated some 50km from Reims and 130km from Paris.

An ancient city set on a small plateau overlooking the great plains of Picardy and Champagne, Laon grew and developed during the Middle Ages. The city was the capital of the ancient Carolingian Kingdom and its cathedral of Notre Dame is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in France. The medieval architecture and historic monuments of the upper town contrast with the more modern feel of the lower town with its flourishing shops and restaurants.

Cultural events are an important part of the city's life and each year it hosts a Medieval Weekend Festival, a Festival of French Music, an International Youth Film Festival, the summer of Photography and arts and crafts exhibitions.

Today, Laon is home to numerous light industrial enterprises producing such diverse items as fibre-optics, office furniture, printing and equipment for TGV trains.

Contact Information

New members are always welcome. If you would like to join this 21st century "entente cordiale" or would like further information, you are invited to get in touch with one of the following: -

The Membership Secretary, Sandra Savage, 023 8026 6568 ,

The Chairman, Thierry De Nitto, 01962 626962

The Secretary, Phil Waterton,